I spent a large part of my professional life as a sports publicist, so I’m pretty familiar with and rarely shocked by some of the, um, odd things that tend to come out of the mouths of sports figures from time to time.
But Miami Marlins’ manager Ozzie Guillen’s quip that became news a couple of days ago likely will become legendary.
A little history. The Little Havana section of Miami, where the Marlins chose to build a new $634 million ballpark funded with mostly public money, is home to more than one million Cuban-Americans, nearly all of whom either fled the oppression of the Castro regime or are directly related to someone who did.
As ESPN’s Dan Le Batard and many others have pointed out, Guillen was, in essence, publicly admiring a man who is, to the Cuban community in America, the moral equivalent of Adolph Hitler.
Let Ozzie’s Reputation Management Camp begin.
As the Marlins and Major League Baseball issued statements distancing themselves from Guillen and his comments, the manager, who was in the midst of a Marlins’ road trip, flew back to Miami. Guillen’s apology-laced press conference was designed to begin repairing his reputation and that of the Marlins.
Will it work? Only time will tell. The true lesson here is know your audience inside and out.
A lesson that was painfully learned by Ozzie Guillen.